In the Beginning and the End
Spoilers ahead for the both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels
In 2008, we were introduced to a scrappy, snippy, and entirely unwanted teenage alien girl. She didn’t belong. Not in the Star Wars canon that had been created up to that point; and even in her own narrative, she had to constantly justify her existence…at least in the beginning.
Over the course of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television show, we got the privilege of watching Ahsoka grow in maturity, wisdom, and importance. We had the privilege of watching her become a war veteran, one of the few to stand up to Darth Vader and live. She becomes a space-wizard who embarks on adventures with a rebel Mandalorian noblewoman, artist, and demolition expert: Lady Sabine Wren. Another powerful woman in the new Star Wars canon.
I wanted to be Ahsoka. In many ways, I still do.
Her Place in the Story of Star Wars
It may sound weird, but I connect with Ahsoka Tano more than any other character in the franchise; certainly more than with golden boys Luke and Anakin.
Her journey through the Clone Wars was at times fun and light. But in the more thought provoking moments, it was haunting, and brought into the spotlight that the Jedi Order was literally sending teenagers, children, into battle to fight and die. Through her story, we the audience finally got the themes of Jedi corruption that were poorly handled in the prequel films.
I could go on about the merits of the show itself, but I’m going to restrain myself.
Ahsoka even helps round out the other characters we know from the films as well. The first time we see a hint of Darth Vader in the show comes when Ahsoka is in peril, and Anakin force-chokes a prisoner of war to gain the intel that saves her life, and that of her best friend Barriss Offee. The end of that episode features a conversation between a fifteen year old and a nineteen/twentyish year old in which Ahsoka confesses that Barriss told her to end her life. Barriss, while briefly lucid during a bout of being possessed and forced to try and murder her friend, begs Ahsoka to kill her. And Ahsoka was forced to consider it.
We see Ahsoka grow from a petulant, though capable child into a girl who knows what it’s like to loose men under her command. A girl who knows what it’s like to literally be a slave; be hunted through the wilderness for sport, and to take a life out of anger.
Ahsoka was the first female protagonist in the Star Wars canon to wield a lightsaber. She paved the road that Rey now walks on. She was the first female protagonist who was the true main character in much of the screen time she got. We saw the world through her eyes. We saw Anakin, Obi-Wan, and the rest of the Jedi Order through the eyes of a young girl who thought the world of them.
And we see that trust deteriorate, and rightfully so. We see her make the choice that Anakin Skywalker wasn’t strong enough to do. Walk away.
“I’m not going to take the fall for something I didn’t do! You have to trust me now”-Ahsoka Tano
Perhaps most importantly, we see Ahsoka learn when to quit those that hold her down. Her final arc in the Clone Wars is harrowing as she is branded as a traitor by a Jedi Order who cannot for the life of themselves bring themselves to trust her, Anakin, or to break tradition.
The Jedi offer to raise her to the rank of Knight. That’s right, Ahsoka was on the cusp of becoming a Jedi Knight, as a teenager. It’s what she’d always wanted. She had the profound courage to say no, and walk away from those who didn’t have her back when she needed them; when it was their duty of care to protect her, and they threw her to the wolves. Ahsoka wasn’t going to have a part in their “patriarchal bullshit land” any longer. She decided to step free of the toxicity inherent to the Jedi Code. In doing so, Ahsoka Tano surpassed her master Anakin Skywalker, by simply choosing herself over a harmful ideology.
She had the courage to walk away from Anakin Skywalker, even when he did have her back, when he was the only one to believe her side of the story. When he begs her to stay, saying that he knows what it’s like to want to walk away the order, she turns and says, I know. (About Padme)
The cosmic Force has intervened at least twice to spare the life of Ahsoka Tano. Once in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and once in Star Wars: Rebels. But I don’t need in-world divine intervention to tell me how important Ahsoka is. It was already solidified how much I loved this character. And it is plain for me to see how she was truly the fulcrum of the Star Wars universe.
The novel Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston which catalogues Ahsoka’s time shortly after the end of the Clone Wars as a young adult, finds another way to break the ground in the Star Wars universe. It introduces one of the precious few LGBTQA+ characters. Her name is Kaeden Larte, and she had a major crush on Ahsoka. A crush which went unrequited as Ahsoka had “Jedi hang-ups.” Which wasn’t in any way a denial of attraction on Ahsoka’s part, just that she still had the whole ‘no attachments’ mantra banging about her brain.
Along with fellow sapphic Star Wars character Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros, Kaede is a woman of color (Which is a big deal, especially in the whitest galaxy that ever was, we call Star Wars).
The novel also solidifies parts of the beginning of the Rebel Alliance to Restore the Republic. Namely, when Ahsoka goes into business as a spy and recruiter with Bail Organa and chooses the designation Fulcrum. While the two remaining Jedi, Kenobi and Yoda, cower in exile, Ahsoka continues the fight the Jedi abandoned the moment they entered a war as soldiers. She’s a peace keeper. Never again a soldier.
One day I hope I’ll be as strong as Ahsoka. That I’ll have the same moral conviction as her; the same self-confidence, to know my worth like Ahsoka Tano.
After all, Ahsoka Ashla Tano, The Fulcrum is my hero.